"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 06, 2011

TORTURE

Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator in Iraq, gave a revealing interview on Democracy Now! about the efficacy and ethics of the use of torture by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies (emphasis added):
"....My argument is pretty simple, Amy. I don’t torture because it doesn’t work. I don’t torture, because it’s immoral, and it’s against the law, and it’s inconsistent with my oath of office, in which I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States. And it’s also inconsistent with American principles. So, my primary argument against torture is one of morality, not one of efficacy.

"You know, if torture did work and we could say it worked 100 percent of the time, I still wouldn’t use it. The U.S. Army Infantry, when it goes out into battle and it faces resistance, it doesn’t come back and ask for the permission to use chemical weapons. I mean, chemical weapons are extremely effective—we could say almost 100 percent effective. And yet, we don’t use them. But we make this—carve out this special space for interrogators and say that, well, they’re different, so they can violate the laws of war if they face obstacles.

"And that’s an insult to American interrogators, who are more than capable of defeating our enemies and al-Qaeda in the battle of wits in the interrogation room. And American interrogators have proven this time and time again, from World War II through Vietnam, through Panama, through the First Gulf War. And let’s go back to the successes of American interrogators. You know, American interrogators found Saddam Hussein without using torture. We found and killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda Iraq, which helped turn the Iraq war, without using torture. And numerous other leaders that we have found and captured—another guy named Zafar, that I describe in my book—all these successes have come without the use of torture...."

"....When I was in Iraq, I oversaw the interrogations of foreign fighters. And those foreign fighters, the majority of them, said, time and time again, the reason they had come to Iraq to fight was because of the torture and abuse of detainees at both Abu Ghraib and Guant├ínamo Bay. And this is not my opinion. The Department of Defense tracked these statistics. And they were briefed, every interrogator who arrived there, that torture and abuse was al-Qaeda’s number one recruiting tool.

"And remember, these foreign fighters that came to Iraq, they made up 90 percent of the suicide bombers. They killed hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers. And so, this policy of torture and abuse did not make America safer. What it did was it caused the deaths of hundreds or thousands of American soldiers who are now buried at Arlington National Cemetery. So, this policy has been counterproductive in so many ways.

"And one thing you’ll never hear the torture supporters talk about, Amy, is the long-term negative consequences of torture. They won’t talk about the fact that al-Qaeda uses it to recruit. They won’t talk about the fact that future Americans are going to be subjected to the same techniques by future enemies using our own actions as justification. They’re not going to talk about the fact that it makes detainees more resistant to interrogations as soon as they walked in the interrogation room, because they see us all as torturers. So they’re not going to talk about all these long-term negative consequences...."
Takeaway: torture is bad.

1 comment:

Inspector Clouseau said...

Although I neither have first-hand experience nor research to support this notion, I strongly suspect that since time immemorial, certain forces of EVERY state have used tactics which clearly constituted torture (no matter how defined) and shocked the conscience, although many (for various reasons) have chosen not to do so openly.

However, that we live in a society capable of public introspection may be just good enough, for now, especially with other issues on our plate.
It’s what helps form the “collective conscience” that all societies need, but do not have.